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From Warming Up to Cooling Down

An introduction to training and management techniques, by Susan McBane; J.A. Allen. RRP £19.99. Hardcover, 190pp. ISBN 978-0-85131-934-6.

June 27, 2008

It's rare to find a horse book that answers your first question when you pick it up, but Susan McBane manages it in her work, From Warming Up to Cooling Down.

"Some people may think it strange," writes McBane, "to find a whole book on the subject of warming up a horse and cooling him down again after work.

"How can anyone write a full book on something which only takes a few minutes - and is probably not important, anyway," she continues.

"I beg to differ," she says. "A horse's entire performance ... can be made or marred by the way in which he is, or is not, warmed up before work."

Equally, the animal's comfort, well-being and future ability will be affected by how well it is cooled down, she says.

With those key elements laid out, McBane goes on in her book to explain the important elements in successfully warming up and cooling down your horse.

McBane, who has written over 40 equestrian books, is clearly an experienced hand. The book is well written and particularly well structured.

She lays out some important groundwork in her introduction, then explores the workings of a horse's body. She discusses a general fitness programme, feeding and energy, preparation before work, lungeing, long-reining, work in-hand and tack.

She then pulls all of that together in dealing with warming up and working-in a horse, before turning her attention to cooling down and warming down techniques.

McBane offers advice on how to prepare a horse for work, loosening and warming him up, introducing and practising new movements, how to ride in a competitive situation without overstressing the animal, and then the correct strategies for caring for a horse after the work is completed.

The language is clear and the chapters conclude with great summaries, meaning anyone can get the key take-home messages in double-quick time, then revisit the book at a later time for a more detailed read. It's well illustrated, too.

McBane is practical in her advice from start to finish. Her Higher National Certificate in Equine Science and Management ensures that the information she offers is scientifically sound.

Most horse owners who think they know enough about warming up and cooling down will quickly realise that there are plenty of important gaps in their knowledge.

Those who ride competitively, or even those who simply enjoy pleasure riding, will find more than enough to consider this book a wise investment.



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